I see a lot of people doing biceps curls in the gym to tone their arms, but it bewilders me really. If you look at your biceps right now you’ll notice that it’s not that big of a muscle. I know what you’re thinking, it’s not big now but if I do loads of biceps curls then it’ll get toned. Well unfortunately you’ll again be wrong in thinking that.
Before I talk about what the most effective exercise is for the biceps I need to tell you how to tone muscles. Creating fantastic muscle tone and definition comes down to one factor, FAT! You can do 1000 biceps curls and have amazing biceps but if it’s covered in a layer of thick fat then no one is going to know about it. For great looking muscle tone and definition you want to get down to at least 10% body fat for a guy and 12% body fat for a gal. One thing I must mention here too, is that you CAN NOT spot reduce fat. What I mean by spot reducing fat is that if you do biceps curls it doesn’t just burn fat on your arms, it’ll take it from all over your body. Unfortunately the largest storage areas of fat are the lower abdomen for men and hips and thighs for women, so these areas are the last to disappear.
OK, I’ve been unfair to the trusty biceps curls as haven’t people in gyms been doing it for years and getting buff. Indeed they have but these people are body builders and are looking to increase the size of their biceps as much as possible. In terms of fat loss and muscle toning it is not an effective exercise for this. When you’re looking to lose fat you want to be burning as many calories as you can in your workout. Also a balanced fat loss and muscle toning program should of course include the use of the biceps. I recommend using a good old fashioned chin up. The chin up is known as a compound exercise which means that uses more than one joint, the shoulder and the elbow unlike the biceps curls which is just the elbow. With a chin up you’ll be using more than just the biceps and so burning more calories and losing more fat.
“But I can’t do a chin up!!!”
I hear you say. Well you don’t have to do full chin ups. Firstly you can always use an assistance machine, setting it at 2/3 of your weight if you haven’t done chin ups in a long time. If you don’t have an assistance machine you can always do eccentric chin ups. This means jumping or stepping up to the top of the chin up and lowering yourself down.
In conclusion, if you’re a body builder then for sure you may want to increase the size of your biceps with curls but if you’re looking to just tone up your arms you want to be doing chin ups. These utilise more muscles and so burn more fat and will tone your arms quicker than any form of biceps curls.